Last Updated January 12, 2023.
When Louisa awakens, she is weak and in pain. Jane is beside her. Sissy has been caring for Louisa and making everything bright and comfortable for her. Mr. Gradgrind enters when Jane calls him. He tells Louisa that there is no longer any solid ground beneath his feet. He has realized the failure of his system yet assures his daughter that he only ever intended to do what he thought was right. He now knows that it was not right. Mr. Gradgrind mistrusts himself in everything and is not sure he is worthy of his daughter’s trust. He does not know exactly how to help her but does understand that he has neglected the “wisdom of the Heart” to focus exclusively on the “wisdom of the Head.”
Mr. Gradgrind continues that Jane’s training has been somewhat modified by certain “daily associations” that have brought “love and gratitude” into her life and made her much happier. He thinks that perhaps the heart can do and has been silently doing what the head cannot. “Can it be so?” he asks.
After Mr. Gradgrind leaves, someone else enters the room and stands beside Louisa. At first, Louisa feels angry and resentful at this person, but that soon fades at the touch of a “sympathetic hand.” Sissy is there hoping to stay with Louisa, to become something to her, to help her in some way. She tells Louisa that she has always loved her. Now she wants to try to help. Louisa wonders why Sissy is not repelled by her pride and confusion and trouble and unhappiness. Sissy says she is not. Finally, Louisa breaks and clings to Sissy, begging her to have compassion and to show her love. Sissy does.